As many of you know we spent Tuesday – Friday last week in Grantham on the British Wheel of Yoga foundation course tutor training course led by Belinda Emberson with Dawn Wesselby.
The BWY Foundation Course 1 is a wonderful personal development course for those who want to delve a little deeper into the rich tradition of yoga. It also will give a solid foundation in yoga for those who wish to become yoga teachers.
There were long days of training involved (9am-7pm) and we learnt a lot from the tutors and also from our peers on the course. It was a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and practice how we would deliver the BWY Foundation Course 1.
There were lots of useful practical sessions around planning the course and all the associated paperwork involved. In addition we shared and discussed our favourite yoga texts.
It was an assessed course and I am pleased to say that both of us passed. We will shortly gain the status of being BWY Foundation Course Tutors which is the next rung on the ladder in our yoga journey. Paul had the nerve wrecking slot of being the first to do his presentation on the first day and Steve was second a little later in the day.
On one of the days we were also treated to a fantastic yoga asana session from the lead tutor Belinda. Belinda is a BWY Diploma Course Tutor and also the BWY Foundation Course Officer. It is a privilege to train with such experienced and knowledgable tutors.
It was also great to meet and network with other BWY teachers from across the country and to see some familiar faces that we had met before.
We will be organising our first BWY Foundation Course 1 very soon and look forward to sharing the details with you.
You can find more on Belinda and Dawn at their websites;
The Mental Health Foundation have put together a suicide prevention advice poster;
We all have mental health and our mental health can vary from day to day. It can vary as we move through different stages of our lives and deal with different life events.
Mental Health can often be referred to as emotional health or wellbeing.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Yet people talk much more about their physical health and often shy away from addressing the subject of their mental health. In general people do not like talking about their feelings but it is healthy to be able to know how we are feeling and to talk about how we feel and to communicate this.
Mental Health problems are common, you are not alone. The following statistics are from the Mental Health Foundations website;
As found by the APMS (2014), 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. Anxiety and depression are the most common problems, with around 1 in 10 people affected at any one time.
Talk to your friends and loved ones if you are struggling, speak to people and seek help.
Yoga can help us with greater self awareness so that we can become more aware of our triggers. We can become aware of the early signs of stress or anxiety and then we have an opportunity to try and deal with this at an early stage. This may be through breathing practices or relaxation or just taking some time for yourself. Ahimsa – Compassion – directed towards ourselves is a very important part of yoga. Practicing ahimsa is to take care of yourself – both your mental and physical wellbeing.
We all have to learn to live with our minds and we are all dealing with this on a daily basis. Some days it goes well and some days less well. It is something we all experience, when you feel low you are not alone, reach out and talk.
This weekend marked the last day of our British Wheel of Yoga diploma course up in Troon in Scotland with Carol Price. This also marked 3 years since we first met our wonderful tutor Carol Price and began training with her.
Our first teacher training course which we started in February 2016 with Yoga Alliance as the awarding body left us feeling unprepared to teach yoga. I am sure that there are some very good courses out there with Yoga Alliance as the awarding body, in fact I have been on some myself, my first Yoga teacher training course certainly wasn’t one of them.
Feeling quite despondent, we were recommended to look at the British Wheel of Yoga. We found a certificate course running in Salford with Paul Fox (then BWY chair) and Carol Price. I had a chat with Paul and we decided that we would embark on another teacher training course that would actually teach us to teach yoga! The British Wheel of Yoga Level 4 Certificate course has BWY Qualifications as its awarding body which is regulated by OFQUAL. This was more like it! A qualification that we could be proud of. There was a lot of hard work, learning and academic essays to complete. We were also assessed teaching a real 90 minute class with real students. The final day of the course was very emotional and we felt very proud of our certificate. This was a world apart from our previous experience!
We then became aware that Carol Price had a diploma course which was part way through that we could tag on to and upgrade our qualification to the highest level of OFQUAL regulated Yoga Teacher Training available, the BWY Level 4 Diploma. We gave this serious consideration as the course was running in Troon in Scotland and obviously entailed a further significant financial and time investment. We both wanted to continue our learning with Carol and felt it was absolutely the right thing to do.
The diploma top up has been a fantastic experience covering 3 modules on Hatha Yoga & Pranayama, the teaching and philosophy of meditation and progression in yoga.
On the course we dived deep into the ancient texts and looked at how we could make them relevant for our classes and create rich layered lessons. The formal essay writing was the part that I found particularly enjoyable. It really encouraged me to read around the topics and to draw together references and importantly allowed me to work out my own opinions. There was also a further assessment of us teaching one of our real weekly 90 minute classes, and those who come to our classes may remember Carol sitting in the corner! Despite having been teaching for 3 years at the point of being assessed it was still a very nerve wrecking experience. I felt supported and buoyed by the lovely yoga students who attend our class.
Let me just say a few words about Carol Price our Diploma Course Tutor. Carol has been a wonderful guide to us on our diploma course, she never fails to come up with either a wonderful pearl of wisdom, a lovely new mobilisation exercise or an intelligent imaginative sequence. Carol always provided constructive and helpful feedback, one of her catch phrases being “what could make you even better would be….”. Carol has been an extremely important teacher to us and we can’t thank her enough, we will always affectionately refer to her as our Yoga Mama!
As an already qualified yoga teacher (at least twice over) when embarking on the Diploma top up I was keen to get as much out of it as possible. When deciding to do further training / CPD I want to gain extra knowledge that is going to make me a better teacher. This is certainly what we got in bucket loads from the diploma course with Carol. It has also been a greatly enriching personal journey studying in depth the ancient yogic texts and pulling together formal assignments.
We are both very proud to be British Wheel of Yoga teachers. With an OFQUAL regulated awarding body, you know that you are going to get excellent quality training and rigorous assessment. It may feel like a lot of hard work as you progress through the BWY training but this is exactly why it is worth it. You come out the other end of the training prepared and ready to teach yoga to all ability classes. The staged approach to teaching that the BWY train you in is all inclusive, we have in our classes students who are retired yoga teachers and others who are completely new to yoga, both being able to practice side by side.
There are so many different yoga teacher training courses out there, I even saw one that was a correspondence course! Choose wisely. How long does it really take to learn a profession such as teaching yoga? In an unregulated arena go for regulated courses, do your homework, speak to previous trainees. Spend your money and time wisely and you won’t regret it.
Join us for our October Yoga workshop day at Westbourne Hall on Sunday 13th October at Westbourne Road, West Kirby, CH48 4DQ
We will have a full day of Yoga from 11:00 till 17:00.
In the morning (11:00 till 13:30) we will have an inversions workshop looking at; * Foundations & strength building for inversions, e.g. headstand & handstand * Safe practice tips for shoulder stand and plough poses * Gaining confidence in your practice using a staged approach * The chance to go upside down with teacher assistance! (optional!)
In the afternoon (14:30 till 17:00) we will have a partner yoga workshop where we will look at; * Tips and tools for improving balance * Practicing balancing poses alone and with a partner * Working with a partner to develop your balance * Have some fun! You do not need to bring a partner to come to this workshop!
Cost : £37 for both workshops or £20 per workshop
(non refundable unless space can be filled) – Please book early as places are limited, you can pay at one of our weekly classes or by BACS. Please email us at email@example.com or send us a Facebook message to book your place.
Please bring with you a packed lunch and a blanket. We have use of the kitchen at Westbourne Hall for teas and coffees and to heat any food you bring. There will be a long table for us to sit at and eat our lunch together.
You may wish to bring your own yoga mat and props, however, we will have plenty for people to use.
There are a good number of places in West Kirby where you could purchase lunch should you not wish to bring a packed lunch.
Westbourne Hall has a free car park with plenty of parking spaces.
We are British Wheel of Yoga and Yoga Alliance trained teachers, fully insured through the British Wheel of Yoga.
You get two friendly teachers which ensures safe practice and plenty of attention and modifications are offered so that the classes are inclusive for all abilities.
Hi Everyone, some of you may be aware that we are taking part in an exciting trial around our chair based Gentle Years Yoga class. Here is an article written by Laura Bissell who, along with Jenny Howsam created Gentle Years Yoga;
On 30th June, nine northern BWY Gentle Years Yoga (GYY) teachers met at the Principal Hotel in York for the first Standardisation Training Day in preparation for September’s launch of the NIHR Research Trial classes. The next Standardisation Day will be on 23rd November in Birmingham for research teachers involved in the second wave of classes in 2020 to take place in the southern half of England and Wales.
Laura Bissell and Jenny Howsam opened the day with a yoga centering session, followed by inspiring talks from Chief Investigator Dr Garry Tew and Professor Tim Rapley from Northumbria. Trial Manager Helen Tilbrook, Trial Coordinator Shirley Paul and Research Fellow Laura Howe from York went through the formal process that would be used to recruit patients from GP surgeries and the procedures the yoga teachers would need to follow in order to set up the classes.
“It was good to hear that the research so far has shown that yoga might be a useful ‘intervention’ with the ability to address multiple health conditions at the same time, simply and at low cost to the NHS’ said BWY teacher Rachel Bayliss from Chesterfield. ‘As yoga teachers, we may feel we already ‘know’ this but if this Trial can prove this, then it may lead to more funding and more support for yoga teachers wanting to offer these classes.”
After lunch, Jenny and Laura taught modifications required for a new Age-Related Condition section of the training in response to GPs’ suggestions for inclusion in the Trial and they covered yoga sequences that teachers’ course plans would need to follow for research standardisation and consistency.
“Undertaking the training was a fantastic CPD decision. The training is inspiring and imaginative and equips you to create your own interesting and layered chair-based yoga sessions’ said Yogasmiths Paul Smith and Stephen Smith from Merseyside. ‘We have been amazed at the change in the people who attend our classes. People with degenerative disease regain strength in their legs and improve their sitting to standing, those with lung diseases have reported their lung capacity checks have shown good improvement from the breathing exercises, but the most profound change is the mental health of the attendees. Some have reported that the GYY class is the highlight of their week. It is lovely to watch the friendship groups forming. They rally around in support of one another.”
Clare Gardner from Merseyside summed up the day, “l thought the Standardisation days was useful, fun and informative. It was a great day. “
Celia Grieve from Ripon reported “It was so good to meet the other Research Teachers and the organisers of the Trial. It answered all the questions I had about delivering the classes. The whole team are enthusiastic and excited about taking this forward.”
“It felt as though the Trial will make an important transformational change’ Stephanie Braysmith from Beverley expressed. ‘Hopefully one which will spread throughout the whole of the U.K.”
‘Body image’ is a term that can be used to describe how we think and feel about our bodies. Our thoughts and feelings about our bodies can impact us throughout our lives, affecting, more generally, the way we feel about ourselves and our mental health and wellbeing.
Body image concern itself is a relatively common thing to experience and is not in itself a mental health issue. However, it can be a contributing factor to mental health problems.
Whereas body satisfaction has been linked to better overall wellbeing and eating habits.
We live in a society that has become more and more fixated with the outwards image of the body. Social Media is awash with picture of people with what some people would view as the “perfect” body and lifestyle. Social Media has made so many people use their social media accounts as if they are celebrities and in doing so sharing edited highlights of their lives in an attempt to show the world that their life is perfect. Social Media is completely fixated with the external, both image wise and also in engaging with the external world, trying to obtain followers and get “likes”.
How does Yoga help us navigate our way through all of this?
As we have said many times in our yoga classes, Yoga is a work in not a work out. Yoga is about internalising our awareness via breath work, posture practice and relaxation / meditation. In doing so we realise that our true self is not our physical body, our true self is not the chatter of our minds. Our true self is deeper again and is the quiet place beyond the chatter of our mind, a place where we can find contentment, acceptance and calmness.
The Pancha Maya Kosha model detailed in the Upanishads sets out a model of the true self being encased in 5 wrappings that prevent us seeing through to the self. The outer most layer is the physical body and people can be stuck here and fixated with their physical ability and / or appearance. This philosophical model tells us that whilst we are stuck in the physical we will not progress to reveal the true self and the peace / calmness that comes with it. We are much more than our reflection in a mirror, an obsession with the reflection prevents us from seeing through the mirror to the deeper layers of ourselves.
Some factors that impact how you relate to your own body image are your family, peer group, pressure to look a certain way and social media. From a personal perspective, as someone who has worn glasses from an early age, I was quite self conscious of my glasses which is only natural. However, people said to me on a number of occasions, when I was in my teens, if I took my glasses off, “Oh you are handsome without your glasses on.” The inference that I made here is that I was obviously not handsome with my glasses on! This is something that certainly affected my confidence somewhat. However, with positive role models wearing glasses in music and the media as I grew older I embraced my glasses and enjoyed wearing them!
Another personal experience growing up was that I loved sixties music and mod culture. I bought (and still own!) vintage scooters, a parka and desert boots. Once I had decided I was a mod then there was self inflicted pressure to conform to a certain style and look. However, I’ve always been a little on the scruffy side so it probably wasn’t the ideal thing to get into! When attending scooter rallies and mod nights I felt like I didn’t fit in because I was not quite so fastidious with how I looked. It is interesting to reflect how we strive to fit in when we are younger, trying to find the hobbies or groups that we can relate to and identify with. Body image is intrinsic to this idea of fitting in and how we portray ourselves to the outside world.
The health and fitness industry is probably one of the biggest purveyors of images of the “ideal” body, second only to the fashion industry. Magazines and social media are full of pictures of men and women with bodies that require an unhealthy addiction to the gym and the taking of ridiculous amounts of supplements. Pictures of people with six packs abs and veiny muscles don’t explain that the models are mostly in dehydrated states in order to look “optimal” for the photo shoots. The yoga world is the same, often using pictures of people with extreme hyper-flexibility or natural gymnasts as their pin-ups. This puts many people off yoga – how often we hear “I can’t do yoga I’m not flexible enough”! It also encourages some yoga practitioners to push themselves too far and to try to achieve ranges of motion that are far outside that which is normal and some would argue, healthy.
My own personal experience through Yoga has been to find a much happier relationship with my own personal body image. Yoga allows us to turn our attention inwards and to let go of our self-critic which drives negative body image. When we practice mindfully we obtain greater body awareness, listening to our own bodies, accepting all of our limitations and abilities in the same way. We can come to realise that the life force / essence of the self that it within you is the same as that which is within others. We learn that we are ok just as we are. With this acceptance we often find that we then make healthier decisions for ourselves and appreciate our bodies more, gaining a healthy relationship with your own body image.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali one of the 8 limbs of Yoga are the Niyama (limb number 2). These are five virtuous behaviours that Patanjali recommends that we cultivate in ourselves. The 4th Niyama is Svadhyaya which translates as self-study.
There are two elements to this idea of self-study. There is the study of the self and there is self directed study. As today is World Book Day I am going to discuss the later.
Svadhyaya as self-directed study is the reading of books that will enrich our lives and allow us to develop in a positive way. This is very much in line with what we would call “life-long learning’.
It is the study and reading of texts / films or documentaries that will enrich our lives and increase our knowledge of ourselves. Modern research has shown that continuing to learn new things late into life can in some cases help to fend off dementia and cognitive decline.
In his book Samadhi, Gregor Maehle interprets Svadhyaya as prioritising the desire to answer the following questions;
Who are we?
What is our true identity?
What is the purpose of our life?
Svadhyaya has quite a life changing implication here around our consumption of such things as newspapers and television. Are we watching television programmes that inspire us and enrich our lives or do we use television as “chewing gum for the eyes”? Are we reading newspapers that educate us or do they instil us with fear of the world? Svadhyaya is mindful consumption of television and media, being aware of how such things make you feel.
Over the years I have reduced my consumption of television dramatically, only choosing to occasionally watch documentaries and films. This has had a positive effect for me, I became aware that often certain television programmes left me feeling annoyed, frustrated or down. Removing this source of negativity can have an uplifting effect on your general mood. This all comes down to mindfulness and having a greater awareness of how such things make you feel. I have found more time to read books and to undertake study. I have always found books to be a rich source of inspiration not just philosophical books or yoga books but also biographies. Biographies can give us a good insight into other peoples experience of life, this can help us foster feelings of empathy and compassion allowing us to put ourselves in the place of the author.
I have always enjoyed reading and this is something that my parents encouraged in me as a little boy. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money but my parents always bought me a new book when I had read my current one. Mum would take me down to Chapter One bookshop in West Kirby and would pick a Willard Price adventure book. These books transported me to exotic lands and exciting adventures and gave me a desire to travel when I was older.
I also loved Enid Blyton. Newton Post Office had a selection of children books and I would love looking at the selection of Famous Five titles. I read some of the Secret Seven books but my favourites were the Famous Five. The escapades of the five and Timmy the dog had me enthralled. Their adventures on Kirin Island felt almost possible for me with Hilbre Island sitting in the estuary. I remember my Dad telling me that smugglers used to use Hilbre Island and this made it all the more exciting and real!
When I was 7 years old we got a lovely little dog called Sandy and she was my “Timmy the dog” from the Famous Five stories. We would have lots of adventures in the fields around Newton, finding dens and watching foxes, rabbits and hares. This sense of exploration and interest in life and nature came directly from the books that I read.
This interest in books and knowledge stayed with me into adulthood and is a continuing gift that my parents gave to me by providing me with books as a child and by taking me for walks in nature.
Today is World Book Day, Thursday 7th March 2019. The impact that reading and access to books can have on a child and the subsequent adult is great. I feel that encouraging reading is as important as ever in this age of modern technology. The purpose and aims of world book day from their website are below;
World Book Day is a registered charity on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own. It’s also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.
This is the 22nd year there’s been a World Book Day, and on 7th March 2019, children of all ages will come together to appreciate reading. Very loudly and very happily. The main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. That’s why we will be sending schools (including those nurseries and secondary schools that have specially registered to participate), packs of Book Tokens and age-ranged World Book Day Resource Packs (age-ranged into Nursery/Pre-School, Primary and Secondary) full of ideas and activities, display material and more information about how to get involved in World Book Day.
Support World Book Day in any way that you can, it is a fantastic initiative!
Here is a link to the World Book Day website where there are lots of great resources;
Just a quick note to let you know that we are holding our next Pop-up yoga session on Friday 13th July at 8:15pm at Red Rocks, Stanley Road, Hoylake. This will be a lovely yoga session, timed so that we can practice yoga with the setting sun and enjoy the final moments of the sun after our guided relaxation.
The weather forecast looks good and we have checked the tide times!!
We will meet at the end of Stanley Road, Hoylake at the gate which leads on to the beach at 8pm for an 8:15pm start down on the beach.
Please bring a yoga mat if you have one, some water, and a blanket / jumper for relaxation as it will get cooler as the sun goes down. Some yoga mats will be available on the day if you need to borrow one.
We will be teaching a traditional Hatha Yoga class with a breathing exercise, postures and a nice guided relaxation to finish. The cost for the class is £5 for adults and £3 for under 18’s. Under 18’s bus the accompanied by an adult and you must bring consent forms which can be found on our website here;
We have been delighted to have been able to introduce yoga to a group of young women completing the Duke of Edinburgh award via our weekly yoga classes.
Faith, Katie and Maisie have been regular attendees at our weekly classes to fulfil the requirements of the Duke of Edinburgh for physical activity / sport.
They have been and continue to be regular attendees along with their friend Esme. We have been very pleased with their commitment to their yoga practice and their progression within yoga. It was with great pleasure that we were able to sign off part of their Duke of Edinburgh award as assessors and wish them good luck in completing the rest of their award.
If you are completing the Duke of Edinburgh award why not consider attending yoga classes to satisfy the Sports / physical activity requirements!
As they are all under 16 they attend with a parent / guardian and we are pleased to have 2 of their parents as regular attendees to our classes now as well! If you are interested in attending our yoga classes with somebody under the age of 16 please see the student resources tab on our website for details of consent forms that need to be completed.
Paul & Steve
Please see below for information about the Duke of Edinburgh award, taken from their website;
Since its creation in 1956 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, the DofE has gone from strength to strength. Guided by the same set of principles and by young people themselves, it’s as relevant today as it was then. The DofE Award was based on Kurt Hahn’s Moray Badge, run by him while Headmaster at Gordonstoun School.
A flexible programme that helps to develop young people for life and work, the numbers speak for themselves: 93% of participants feel that DofE has helped them to work in a team and 84% feel that they have become a more responsible person. From 1,000 DofE Awards achieved in year one to 142,961 last year, we have both a rich history and a bright future. Why not let our timeline and our young people tell you more?
The DofE has a positive impact on young people’s lives, in terms of their personal development and employability, and on wider society, from charities gaining active and engaged volunteers to businesses hiring work-ready recruits.
Demand remains high. With increasing numbers of young people wanting to take part in the world’s leading youth achievement award, it’s our ambition to give another one million 14 to 24-year-olds in the UK this life-changing opportunity by 2021.
Thanks to our fantastic team of employees and volunteers and the generous donations made by our supporters, we look forward to doing just that.
At all of our weekly classes this week we discussed Mental Health Awareness Week and the topic for this year which is stress.
Stress has been shown to be one of the main contributory factors in triggering a mental health problem. Research has shown that two thirds of us will experience a mental health problem during our lifetime.
In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness week we decided we would start the conversation about mental health and ask our yoga students to share their tips and ways of dealing with Stress.
We had our Stress board at all the classes and students all wrote down on a post it note what they do to deal with stress.
At the end of this week we had a mountain of post it notes with lots of helpful tips and ideas. We typed them all up and entered them into a special website of wizardry which came out with a wonderful word cloud with the most common suggestions in a bigger font. Here are the results;
The top 3 helpful suggestions were going for a walk, talking to someone and doing yoga! Have a look at the word cloud and see if there are any ideas that you may like to try next time you are feeling stressed.
We would like to sincerely thank all of our students for taking part in this activity and sharing their own personal strategies for dealing with stress. Sharing our ideas can help others and remove the perceived stigma around Mental Health. The greater our awareness of Mental Health is and the knowledge that many of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetime will help those who are suffering in silence. There is no need to suffer in silence, talk and reach out. People have lots of tips and strategies that may help you too.